AzHOSA Chapter at National Conference This Week

June 21, 2011 / by / 0 Comment

By Doug Carroll
Communications Staff

Question: What do GCU’s HOSA Bowl and women’s basketball teams have in common?

Answer: Neither has a problem with passing to Samantha Murphy.

The Antelopes’ All-American, who graduated in May from the College of Health Sciences, is part of a team of three that will compete this week in Anaheim, Calif., at the National Leadership Conference for HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America).

(l to r) Jordan Magruder, Erica Wadas and Jessica Barajas.

Murphy, Erica Wadas and Jordan Magruder will represent Arizona in the HOSA Bowl, a game that tests knowledge of pathology, anatomy, medical history and HOSA facts.

“We took most of the same classes together,” Wadas says. “She’s our MVP. She’s good at everything.”

Wadas and Magruder aren’t exactly lightweights, and the rest of the GCU contingent of 10 students also is long on talent.

For instance, upcoming sophomore Jessica Barajas will participate in an extemporaneous poster competition in which she is given a topic, a wealth of information and three hours’ time to design a poster that conveys a message. At the state level, the topic was insomnia and she took first place.

Also representing GCU’s chapter of AzHOSA in Anaheim will be students Bradley Lowey, Matt Tassinari, Sydney Smith, Casey Smith, Joe Sanchez and Courtney Canner and sponsors Haley Peebles and Donna Gerakos.

The conference, which will attract thousands of students from across the country, runs through Saturday. The GCU students did most of their own fundraising in order to attend.

“This is a good place for the school to get national recognition,” says Wadas, who also graduated in May and is off to the Phoenix campus of the University of Arizona Medical School in mid-July.

The GCU chapter is one of the most highly involved clubs on campus. This year, it had 120 members, drawing as many as 50 to monthly meetings where guest speakers included a military wound-care specialist, an expert on dementia, a physical therapist, a physician’s assistant and an authority on health-care policy.

The club also sponsored a blood drive and hosted a college fair. Next year, the club will have its own website (

Magruder, another recent graduate who is trying to decide between medical school or studying to be a physician’s assistant, transferred to GCU from the University of Colorado and never regretted it.

“My instructors at GCU were so willing to help,” she says. “I loved my experience here.”

Wadas, the daughter of a gastroenterologist, also has a degree in journalism from Arizona State University. She says the opportunity to know her GCU professors was “life-changing” and has prepared her well for what’s next.

“I came for the nursing program, actually,” she says. “But Haley said, ‘You don’t want to be a nurse, do you?’ And I said, ‘You’re right.’”

Reach Doug Carroll at 639.8011 or [email protected].

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